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Old 03-21-2015, 04:49 AM   #1
kschang
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Default Flashback: death of M1TP3... and Electronic Battlefield

I was browsing a lot of sites after playing a bit of retro F-117A, which lead me back to M1TP2, which lead me to "Death of M1TP3" here.

Which reminded me that I have a little story to tell.

You see, I used to work at MicroProse... way back when. Technically, I worked at Spectrum HoloByte, in their Alameda office, which later became MicroProse. And yes, I knew all the guys, and gals there. Back then it was just a fun summer QA testing job. I was there when they finished up Stunt Driver (my name is in there in the credits) and I was helping test Flight of the Intruder, Faces, and a few other games.

Any way, Mr. Sponauer did a great job, but electronic battlefield long predated M1TP3. Electronic Battlefield idea was a Gilman Louie concept that was supposed to be a part of the original Spectrum HoloByte game: Tank
which is often confused with the MicroProse title M1 Tank Platoon released in the same year: 1989. The difference is Tank was supposed to have MP, and it sometimes actually work. M1TP did not have multiplayer.

By the time I got there, Falcon 3 had gone gold and being packaged, and they're already working on add-ons. I've even seen the prototype box of "Avenger A-10" (yes, I know the title's not right, but that's the title they went with). That's when they found that the terrain engine they have that seems to work for Falcon 3 doesn't work well enough (hardware wasn't good enough at the time) for A-10. They got prototypes working but the frame rate is horrible in undulating terrains (hills and whatnot). Remember, 3D acceleration doesn't exist yet. 3DFX didn't make Voodoo card until 1996!

So the idea of making a ground sim that work with a flight sim is... well... too early.

I helped them in-house test a few games, then was laid off / not invited back.

In 1991 MicroProse went public, to raise funds for their arcade business which did horrible. Other games didn't do so well. In 1993, at urging of Bill Stealey cofounder MicroProse, Spectrum HoloByte bought out MicroProse. For a while, not much changed. Stealey left in 1994 to start Interactive Magic (who also did a F-16 and a M1 game, as well as Apache and Hind games)

Gilman Louie spent a lot of money on lining up some big name licenses, like Magic: The Gathering, Star Trek TNG, Top Gun, and MechWarrior. However, all those games have a few issues, and the company got a cash crunch in 1996, and started laying off staff, and that's when most of MicroProse (Maryland) left, including Sid Meier, Jeff Briggs, and Brian Reynolds.

But somehow the Electronic Battlefield idea lived on, and a fresh team was gathered for Gunship! and maybe, M1TP3.

And there's where Mr. Sponauer's article comes in.

Nowadays, we have to make do with the Battlefield series, and DCS series (which has no vehicles), and maybe the Arma series.

One day we'll get what we really wanted
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Old 03-22-2015, 03:13 AM   #2
murkz
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Thank you kschang for the link and the trip down memory lane
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Old 03-22-2015, 01:12 PM   #3
ZeeWolf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kschang View Post
I was browsing a lot of sites after playing a bit of retro F-117A, which lead me back to M1TP2, which lead me to "Death of M1TP3" here.

Which reminded me that I have a little story to tell.

You see, I used to work at MicroProse... way back when. Technically, I worked at Spectrum HoloByte, in their Alameda office, which later became MicroProse. And yes, I knew all the guys, and gals there. Back then it was just a fun summer QA testing job. I was there when they finished up Stunt Driver (my name is in there in the credits) and I was helping test Flight of the Intruder, Faces, and a few other games.

Any way, Mr. Sponauer did a great job, but electronic battlefield long predated M1TP3. Electronic Battlefield idea was a Gilman Louie concept that was supposed to be a part of the original Spectrum HoloByte game: Tank
which is often confused with the MicroProse title M1 Tank Platoon released in the same year: 1989. The difference is Tank was supposed to have MP, and it sometimes actually work. M1TP did not have multiplayer.

By the time I got there, Falcon 3 had gone gold and being packaged, and they're already working on add-ons. I've even seen the prototype box of "Avenger A-10" (yes, I know the title's not right, but that's the title they went with). That's when they found that the terrain engine they have that seems to work for Falcon 3 doesn't work well enough (hardware wasn't good enough at the time) for A-10. They got prototypes working but the frame rate is horrible in undulating terrains (hills and whatnot). Remember, 3D acceleration doesn't exist yet. 3DFX didn't make Voodoo card until 1996!

So the idea of making a ground sim that work with a flight sim is... well... too early.

I helped them in-house test a few games, then was laid off / not invited back.

In 1991 MicroProse went public, to raise funds for their arcade business which did horrible. Other games didn't do so well. In 1993, at urging of Bill Stealey cofounder MicroProse, Spectrum HoloByte bought out MicroProse. For a while, not much changed. Stealey left in 1994 to start Interactive Magic (who also did a F-16 and a M1 game, as well as Apache and Hind games)

Gilman Louie spent a lot of money on lining up some big name licenses, like Magic: The Gathering, Star Trek TNG, Top Gun, and MechWarrior. However, all those games have a few issues, and the company got a cash crunch in 1996, and started laying off staff, and that's when most of MicroProse (Maryland) left, including Sid Meier, Jeff Briggs, and Brian Reynolds.

But somehow the Electronic Battlefield idea lived on, and a fresh team was gathered for Gunship! and maybe, M1TP3.

And there's where Mr. Sponauer's article comes in.

Nowadays, we have to make do with the Battlefield series, and DCS series (which has no vehicles), and maybe the Arma series.

One day we'll get what we really wanted
Oh yeah, I remember those days. My first PC was a 486DX-33 in 1991-2 with 16mgs of
RAM.
I am convinced that the PC sims and games had a major effect on the PC's popularity,
it was this effort that opened the eyes of guys who otherwise would not have been attracted to the PC -- and running DOS too.

Strike Commander, Strike Eagle III, all MicroProse stuff and then came DID with their
fantastic X86 code that ran lightning fast.

If we saw the effort made like that today without the interference from MS,etc.,
it would be awesome.

ZeeWolf
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